Back on proper numbering and hopefully back on track with posting pieces. Things get a little shaky here. Fern’s talk with Rynun did not go well and the hint of a war that her niece might be central to has her very much out of sorts.
Once we arrived and parked, Sinera quickly hurried up to her desk and began sorting through mail and messages. I went to sulk in my office. I hadn’t worked off my mad completely, so it was a good idea to waste some time in a snit, then pull myself back together. The old windup clock on the window shelf ticked away as I pulled the bottle from the torn inner coat pocket and dropped it with a touch of malice into the bottom drawer and kicked it shut. I took off the trench coat and hung it on the coat tree behind my desk and between the windows. As I turned toward my desk I was already trying to fit pieces together. Fifteen minutes later I wasn’t pulling my hair out in frustration just yet, I was just in a real bitchy mood.
I wanted answers now, and lord knows they weren’t going to come to me in the mood I was in. So, since today seemed to be all about reminiscing, I walked back out to the PT cruiser, got in and started it up, then went up into Dayning to visit Zhirk.
His family was all gone excepting his mom, who had been transformed into a fairy when the Change had reached Halifax. His sister died in the riots, and his dad a while after that. Fawn and I had chipped in money to have his remains buried next to his dad and sister in the back yard of their old house. It had been cared for while Zhirk was alive, but after three years of neglect it had started looking worse for wear. The grey-green color had faded to a flat sort of grey-brown, and the weeds had conquered the formerly manicured lawn around the house. The windows were still intact, but someone had kicked in the back door. I hoped they didn’t do too much damage to the place.
Fawn and I had gotten a small token from the place to remember him by after the remains had been interred. The Fairy that was his mom flitted in the back yard. Maybe at some level she did know, and mourned. The day was becoming way to melancholy. I wanted something to divert me out of this bad mood, only Fawn was still at work, and my relationship with Larry had changed after Fawn had gone with me while pregnant with Zhira. We still talked when I came over, but usually it was Fawn that invited me, not Larry. He held a grudge, and I understood it. He and Fawn managed to save their marriage through a buttload of hard work, but that work didn’t include forgiving me.
I was mostly okay with that. I had a lot of guilt over everything that happened, and Larry’s anger with me felt like I deserved it. I probably should have gone and talked to someone about it, but I chose to bury myself in work to avoid thinking about it. It worked for the most part, and I managed to finally make peace with all that happened. The big change was Zhira. Believe me, a child’s innocence can really lift weight off your shoulders. There’s just something about watching a child grow and explore, especially the really early years. They’re a bundle of innocent curiosity.
I pushed open the remains of the back door and stepped inside. The basement was poured concrete walls and floor with a couple windows set just above ground to let light in. A pair of child-sized bicycles lay next to the door, their spokes stomped out and bent. A larger adult pair were no longer here. Toward the far left wall was the gas heater, and a dust-caked white washer and dryer. A couple steel posts held up the floor. I walked ahead to the stairs up to the kitchen. Four steps up, a left turn on the landing and six steps more place me next to the refrigerator in the kitchen. The living room was just beyond, and to my left was another set of stairs that went up to the bedrooms and the single bathroom. Yeah, I’d been here before.
Once to help Zhirk pick up some clothes and things for obscuring ritual, and then here to talk with him on occasion and try to keep the place looking lived in. Right now there was a pile of towels from the bathroom in the living room, along with a sleeping bag and a couple of opened cans. Normally I’d be looking for the squatter, but I just didn’t have the urge to do anything other than take a short tour of the rooms, and walk back down the basement and go out to where the graves were.
The headstones were still there. A bit of painted graffiti was on each one. The fluorescent yellow on the dark basalt made my stomach turn over. I took a deep breath and let it go. Zhirk wasn’t here any more, nor were his family. All that was here were bits of carved rock for others to remember them. Zhirk would have told me to leave be and concentrate on what really was bothering me, which was the war. There had to be some way to figure out what Rynun had meant and maybe stop it before it starts. Yeah, I bought in. I believed Rynun that something bad was going to happen soon. I just couldn’t not brood about it because he’d intimated that Fawn was in the middle of it too, which meant Larry and Zhira would be affected. Which would then affect me on a deeply personal level.
Yeah, we’re all selfish motivations. And selfish or not, war doesn’t just affect one family. It could very well affect all of Nova Scotia, or all of Canada. I didn’t know the scope, what it was about, or really anything, and I had no place to start, and that frustration got me out here, visiting ghosts that couldn’t do anything but listen to a short ginger girl complain about all the crap she doesn’t know. Sometimes it’d be nice to have something other than a one way conversation, but I’m not a spirit medium, I can’t talk to ghosts, and vice-versa. Even with all this Magick in me, that is one of many things I can’t do.
As much as I wish Magick was a cure-all, it’s not. Magick is good for brute-forcing solutions, and rituals can do detail but they take effort and a lot of control to do right. Magick at times has its own agenda, and when you’re part of it, life gets interesting. The worst part is not knowing if you’re falling into someone’s agenda even if you’re already hip deep. I stuck around and did pull some weeds, wiped the dust and mud off, and bade them fare well until the next time. The trip home was about the same as the trip out; melancholy with a bit of simmering resentment at the absolute lack of information.
I got back just around sundown, Sinera had already left for the evening as did most of the other businesses on the floor. That gave me the quiet I wanted. Was I obsessing over what Rynun said? You bet I was. It may be hubris, but the hint that Fawn and I were in the middle of something like a war made me wonder at what I could do before fertilizer hit rotating air mover.I think I worried it to the bone and gnawed all the way through trying to understand why. And no, I normally don’t get obsessive like this. At some level I think I understood that I was placing way to much into one cryptic statement, but I couldn’t let it go. TO get back to the situation at hand, as I was about to fall asleep at my desk, I realized that I did have one person I knew that might find answers. The question was, would Larry actually be willing to help?
The only way to find out was get up the next morning and drive over to Fawn and Larry’s and ask. It took some self-coaxing to get me moving that direction, but move I did, and twenty minutes later I was in front of Fawn and Larry’s. Their house had a sense of stoic cheer, which fit both of them. Making a marriage work takes a willingness to keep at it during bad times. It’s too easy to go elsewhere and look for new and exciting partners. Neither of them ever did. I envied them that steadfast commitment. But it wasn’t commitment I wanted. Answers were more important. Answers, and telling Fawn. She needed to know, and so did Larry.
The first person to greet me was, naturally enough, Zhira. “Antie Fernie!” She squealed in delight and tottered towards me on unsteady but excitedly animated legs. I swept her up in a big hug as she reached me and we shared happy giggles. Fawn walked out of the front door. She was in blue jeans with a plain formerly white sweat shirt that had seen enough use to turn a faded ivory. Larry was right behind Fawn and dressed like her in blue jeans, but he had a light blue denim shirt. I put Zhira down and gave my sister a hug. Larry stayed a few steps back and have our moment together.
Finishing our hug, we all walked back into the house. I went over and sat at the circular table near the kitchen while Fawn got Zhira a glass of water, and she and Larry grabbed beer. I took a water myself. Both Fawn and Larry sat down opposite me. They knew something was up. I always called when I was coming over. I didn’t so this time.
“So Fern” Fawn said as she looked over her shoulder at Zhira who had set her glass down and was on her hands and knees in front of their St. Bernard, Karl. The dog was down in front of Zhira, front feet splayed out, butt in the air. He took off like a puppy and banged through the screen door into the back yard. Zhira was toddling right after him, laughing all the way. She turned back to me after the circus had gone outside. “What has got you so wound up? You usually call when you come over.”
I looked over to Larry. “I need some help in figuring out what Rynun said when I met him at the cabin yesterday.” I told them of his cryptic statement about me and Fawn and the war. Larry’s face darkened as I finished the short talk while Fawn split her attention between Larry and I. I know Larry was about to explode all over me because of this, but he couldn’t blame me for it. Getting the word from Rynun made it a trusted source which meant arguing wasn’t going to change the truth. I gave them everything, including my trip to see Zhirk’s place.
“So, you’ve been obsessing about what Rynun said, and driving yourself crazy looking for an answer before you have any information to figure an answer out from. Did I miss anything?”
“No Larry, that’s about it. Though hearing you say that way stings a little.”
“You should think about what you have and are trying to do, Fern. You’d have less problems.”
It was a not so subtle dig that I didn’t take care of business. We’d been at each other off and on depending on how much Fawn was a part of whatever was being discussed. This was obviously way too much for Larry to stay calm and rational. Fawn and Zhira were his life. Anything that might cause trouble was going to be met head-on and conquered either by wit or Magick. I felt for him. I did. After having to watch my sister nearly die twice from Preeclampsia during her pregnancy, I finally understood the helplessness of knowing that I had no ability to help, nothing but to watch, and pray, and stay by her side.